Humility in Leadership

The Power of Humility in Leadership: Lessons from Great Minds

In Customer Resources, Strategy Resources by Brandt A. HandleyLeave a Comment

In the fast-paced world of leadership, where ambition often reigns supreme, “old-fashioned” virtues might seem to be left behind. However, these virtues are the foundation upon which many great leaders build their leadership!

In this article series, we’ll dive into these values and where they fit into modern leadership.

First up: humility.

Humility for New Hires
Humility is a trait that we often hear about from our guests as one they look for in new hires. As Todd Stewart, CEO of ForwardAir notes, “The big thing we look for is humility. That’s a big one for us because if you’re prideful, that can lead to foolish decisions and foolish actions.” How to get at that in an interview? “It’s hard, because in an interview on one side, you’re trying to impress. But the reality is that you want to do that in a manner that’s humble. I’m looking for [whether] they are giving other people in their lives credit for things, are they saying the right things, are they involved in a church or if they’re not a believer, do they have a passion that they follow? Are they committed to whatever that might be in their particular sphere?” 

Mike Grossman, CEO of Inflection, echos this sentiment but adds, “Humility is a really important characteristic, but it’s humility combined with confidence.” This blend allows leaders to acknowledge their strengths and limitations while fostering an environment of openness and collaboration.

Of course, for the faith-based guests on the podcast, “The ultimate example is Christ, right?” notes Jeff Thomas, CEO of Archetype Wealth Partners. “He’s got all the resources at his fingertips and he chooses to serve. There’s a model there.” That model, of course, demonstrates the transformative power of humility, showing that true leadership lies in service and sacrifice.

Humility to Share the Load
Moreover, humility in leadership involves recognizing the collective talent and potential within an organization. It’s so much better to be humble and to tell people you don’t have all the answers you know and to let the rest of the group help you,” says John Costello, CEO of Cherry’s Industrial Equipment Corporation. “A lot of CEOs feel like they’ve got to shoulder everything,” says  [they’ve] got a really great talented group around them. Let [the group] participate!” By empowering others and embracing their contributions, leaders unlock the full spectrum of creativity and innovation within their teams.

In practice, humble leaders prioritize listening and learning over command-and-controlling their way through the ranks. They seek diverse perspectives, acknowledge mistakes, and celebrate the successes of their team members. Such leaders foster a culture of trust and respect, where individuals feel valued and motivated to excel. An abundant, collaborative mindset makes for successful teams that continue to grow.

Humility is not just a virtue; it’s a transformative force in leadership. By embracing humility alongside confidence, following the example of Jesus Christ, and empowering those around them, leaders can unlock the full potential of their organizations and create a lasting impact in the world. As we strive to navigate the complexities of the modern era, humility is one “traditional” virtue that can help leaders succeed. 

For more faith-based learnings from successful CEOs, check out ROI’s Into the Corner Office podcast

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